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Thanksgiving gives everyone a chance to test their skills at preparing a dish or whole meal for the holiday. But for those in the mood for something a little different than the standard stuffing or mashed potatoes, try one of these recipes used by our own personnel and add a dash of flair to your next holiday meal.

Leigh Houck, Health Educator at the WNY Branch Hospital Clinic, suggests Lemony Dijon Green Beans.

"I teach the Ship Shape Weight Management program for the clinic, so this recipe has a lighter focus," said Houck.

Lemony Dijon Green Beans

2 pounds fresh or frozen

green beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 teaspoons lemon juice

Black pepper to taste

1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Whisk together olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and black pepper. Set aside. Cook green beans until tender. Drain. Pour dressing over and toss. If you like, you can add almonds as a garnish. The dish serves eight, at approximately 80 calories per serving.

Marilyn Brown, N5 for Naval Support Activity Washington, offers an alternative to turkey and ham with Cornish game hens.

"This is a nice meal if you're only cooking for a couple of people and don't want to go through the trouble of preparing a whole turkey," said Brown.

Cornish Game Hens

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoons lemon-pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each, rinsed and dried thoroughly

1 stalk celery

1 medium onion

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, stir together salt, lemon pepper, dried basil and poultry seasoning. Rub olive oil all over the hens and season each with the salt mixture. Line a baking sheet pan with foil under the wire rack and place the hens on the foil with plenty of space between them. Be sure not to crowd the hens on the baking sheets or else the skin won't crisp up properly and they will take much longer to cook. Dice the celery and onion in to large cubes and loosely stuff the cavities of each hen with the cubes to impart the vegetables' flavors to the meat as it cooks. Roast the hens in the preheated oven for about one hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Remove the hens from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving or serving.

Brown also offers wild rice pilaf as a way to compliment your meal.

Wild Rice Pilaf

4 cups prepared wild rice or brown rice (or rice medley combination)

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 bell pepper (green, red, or yellow) chopped

1 package mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon butter or margarine (optional)

1/2 cup chicken stock

Prepare rice according to package directions to yield 4 cups prepared rice and set aside. Melt butter or margarine in large pan; if you're cooking a lower fat meal, just skip the butter entirely. Add chicken stock to pan. Cook vegetables in chicken stock and butter mixture until tender, but not browned. Add cooked rice to vegetables mixture and mix well. This dish will serve eight to 10 guests.

After hearty dishes like those, try another of Houck's dishes, Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake, for desert.

"These are not the full fat comfort foods that we tend to associate with the holidays," said Houck. "I figure we all have plenty of those!"

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

3 2.5-by-5-inch chocolate graham cracker rectangles, crushed into crumbs

2 and 1/3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (can also use a mix of ricotta and low-fat cottage cheese)

4 ounces non-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 egg

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur (could also mix 1 tablespoon espresso powder with 2 tablespoon water for a coffee flavor)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray an 8-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle crumbs evenly over the bottom of pan. In a blender or food processor, puree the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, cocoa, egg, flour, liqueur (or espresso mixture) and vanilla, then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the mixture over the crumbs. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about one and a half hours. Cool completely on a rack. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least three hours. Slice into 12 portions; each portion has approximately 100 calories. Slices can be individually flash frozen and wrapped for easy make-ahead lunchbox treats or desserts.

With these recipes, you can add a fresh twist to your Thanksgiving dinner that everyone can enjoy.